Posted Fri Dec 23, 2011, 10:08pm Subject: The Java Sojourner - Town 6 - Chicago
I visited CHICAGO in the spring of 2011 and have been sitting on this review for 6 months, reading about many complaints on Intelligentsia. Well...let this noob sound like a noob, then.
Until I get more experience, there is only one place for me to go in Chicago, and that is Intelligentsia Coffee. This is in the spirit of going to school and self-discovery, rather than critiquing, since Intelligentsia is the touchstone for a majority of serious coffee drinkers (trending disappointments noted). I will be happy to relate what I learned about them and myself: The first day I visited (The Millenium Park location on E. Randolph Street), they were pulling a premium blend of Kenya and Brazil espresso roasts (Honeybadger) on their paddle machine. This was my first experience of a 'god shot'. The clear, sweet taste of strawberries were the first taste, changing into a persistent and pleasant nutty taste thereafter. Good crema, good body, very good. I tried to walk out with honey badger as one of their pourovers, but they would not accommodate, since the Honeybader grinder was set for espresso. I tried whatever blend was being ground for pourover, but it was not worth writing about.
The next day, I was disappointed that they were no longer offering Honeybadger, but they were pulling their Black Cat (Brazil and Tanzania) espresso roast. The crèma and body were very good and the first taste was nutty, followed by wheaty (in the good sense), then toasty, finishing off with licorice. Again, I tried to order one of their pourovers to go, and I forget what ticked me off, but I walked out and left it on the counter.
This place is still the place to go for great espresso pulls. They could raise the benefit to coffee drinkers by being more flexible with their willingness to change grinds and thereby marry their expert roasts and capable skills to the requests of their customers. On the other hand, this location gets so busy that it is understandable that they feel that they can't pay the time requirement for such accommodation. They are annoying, however.
My third visit was to Intelligentsia's location in the ground floor of the Monadnock Building (53 W. Jackson Blvd.). This space is light, airy, and not crowded the one time (later in the morning) that I visited. Their office building location makes me suspect that rush hour may be very busy here, but I do not know. The Ethiopean pourover was much better than my first two visits to Mill Park.
A passing note: I took a package of Honeybadger home and was able to replicate the 'god shot' on my only espresso machine, an All-Clad manual piston plunger espresso toy (!) once .. and not again.
aecletec Senior Member Joined: 10 Dec 2010 Posts: 194 Location: Australia Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: Presso Grinder: Faema A6 Drip: Chemex
Posted Sat Dec 24, 2011, 4:07am Subject: Re: The Java Sojourner - Town 6 - Chicago
I think you might be asking a bit much for the espresso grinder to be changed... I don't know of any store that would do this, even the ones where I feel like family. If they grind to order for pour over maybe they can take some out of the hopper and put it through the other grinder... My suspicion would be that the coffee may be too dark for filter.
Hey, don't knock the presso; I pull shots on mine that, using the same coffee, are the equal of any cafe I've compared! A great device if you have the patience to play.
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